Philanthropy and international development - bridging ideas, institutions and time

Activity: Participating in or organising an eventSymposium


Philanthropy has played a significant, if not entirely unproblematic, role in international development. In this seminar, we focus on the ‘bridging’ function of philanthropy in international development from a range of disciplinary, geographical, historical, and interdisciplinary perspectives. We are interested in how philanthropic organisations act as bridges – that connect, by-pass, cross, and traverse – between developmental institutions, ideas, and time. Far more than other developmental organisations, we believe, philanthropies are uniquely positioned and resourced to overcome barriers and make purposive connections across ideologies, imaginaries and differences. The bridging metaphor provides a useful conceptual heuristic for interrogating philanthropy. Here, an interdisciplinary exchange between scholars studying the programmes and practices of various philanthropic organisations in and from different countries and continents and across different developmental sectors and timescales can be particularly revealing. We also set out to be methodologically diverse. Given the predominance of the sociological and ethnographic modes of researching philanthropy, we wish to draw attention to the promise of archival research. This one-day seminar was held at the University of York on 4 May 2017, co-organised with Arun Kumar of the York Management School, and jointly hosted by the York International Development Network, The York Management School, and the Centre for Research in Comparative and Global Social Policy.
Period4 May 2017
Event typeSeminar
LocationYorkShow on map


  • philanthropy
  • international development